Space Force Set to Launch New NSSL Mission On SpaceX Rocket; Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy Quoted

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The U.S. Space Force will launch its National Security Space Launch-67 mission using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on January 14 at 5:00 p.m.

Scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center, the mission consists of two co-manifested satellites designed to transmit military communications data and bring payloads to space, the Space Systems Command announced on Friday.

“This is a complex mission and truly represents what Assured Access to Space is about, and is why we’re so enthusiastic about this upcoming launch — our second Falcon Heavy in just months,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Purdy, program executive officer for SSC’s Assured Access to Space organization.

“The teamwork I’ve seen preparing for this launch has just been exceptional. We’ve worked side-by-side with SpaceX to ensure all boxes are checked,” he emphasized.

As the launch’s forward spacecraft, SSC’s Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM will enter geosynchronous orbit to deliver communications relay capabilities that will aid the service’s senior leadership and combatant commanders. It is intended to augment existing military satellite communication capabilities and steadily broadcast military data using space-based satellite relay links.

Also included in the launch is the Long Duration Propulsive ESPA spacecraft, which will be used to quickly place various payloads into orbit, providing key data meant to inform and shape later Space Force initiatives. It carries two SSC payloads, catcher and WASSAT, as well as two Space Rapid Capabilities Office operational prototype payloads for enhanced situational awareness and an operational prototype crypto/interface encryption payload to ensure secure space-to-ground communications stability. 

This mission serves as the first launch for the NSSL initiative this year and the first SpaceX launch from the NSSL Phase 2 contract. It marks the fifth SpaceX Falcon Heavy mission overall and the rocket’s second NSSL mission.

In conducting this launch, the Space Force will harness the SpaceX-developed booster reusability capability, which allows the service to reuse side boosters from an earlier USSF mission.

A backup opportunity is scheduled for January 15 at 5:56 p.m.

GovCon Wire will be hosting its Space Acquisition Forum on Jan. 18, which will connect government officials and industry experts to consider the challenges, technologies and best practices shaping space acquisition today. To learn more and register to attend, please visit GovCon Wire’s events page.

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